Thursday Night Football: Bengals at Browns Preview, Prediction and Pick

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Josh Widman
Josh graduated from Syracuse University in May 2020 with a degree in Broadcast and Digital Journalism. He played basketball and baseball in High School. Despite growing up in New Jersey, he roots for the Cleveland Browns, Cavaliers and Indians. He has two favorite sports movies: Dodgeball and Major League. Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals is his favorite sporting event of all-time and his favorite sports memory is playing in a white-out basketball game under the lights against a rival summer camp when he was 15 years old.

Burrow and Mayfield face off for the first time on Thursday Night in the Battle of Ohio.

This season’s second installment of Thursday Night Football showcases a pair of 0-1 teams with high-profile young quarterbacks. Rookie Joe Burrow leads the visiting Bengals into Cleveland after a narrow loss to the Chargers in Week 1. This year’s number one overall pick completed 23 of 36 passes for 193 yards. He ran for a touchdown but also threw an interception. He impressively led Cincinnati down the field and put the team in a position to tie the game with seven seconds remaining.

Unfortunately for the Bengals, Randy Bullock pushed a 31-yard field goal wide right and Los Angeles escaped with a 16-13 win. Baker Mayfield, also a Heisman-winning number one overall pick, and the Browns faced a tough test and failed in week one. The Ravens drubbed the Browns 38-6 after outscoring them 28-0 over the final 45 minutes. Mayfield completed 21 of 39 passes for 189 yards. He threw one touchdown and also threw an interception. The Browns moved the ball well in the first half and even forced a Ravens turnover. The momentum Cleveland gathered disappeared after a brutal drop by Odell Beckham Jr. on 3rd and 2 deep in Baltimore territory followed by Austin Seibert missing a 41-yard field goal. Both teams head into Thursday night’s matchup with plenty to improve on.

Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns Key Stats

  • Baker Mayfield is 3-1 in his career vs Cincinnati (2-0 at home)
  • Joe Mixon averages over 5 yards per carry vs Cleveland and has scored 4 TDs (6 games)
  • Nick Chubb averages nearly 86 rushing yards per game vs Cincinnati (4 games)

Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns Betting Lines

  • The O/U is 43.5
  • The Browns are 6 point favorites on DraftKings
  • The Browns are -250 on the ML, Bengals +215

Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns Spread Prediction

Week one’s performance is not indicative of what this Browns team is going to be. Cleveland has had just six weeks to implement a new offense with no preseason while the Ravens have continuity going for them. The Ravens are also one of the best teams in the league. The sky may seem like it’s falling but it’s not time to abandon ship… yet. The Browns have won three of the last four meetings with the in-state rival Bengals including the last two games in Cleveland.

Cincinnati ranked dead-last in rushing defense in 2019 and surrendered 155 yards to Los Angeles on Sunday. Three Chargers running backs combined for 148 yards on 33 carries. That’s nearly an average of 4.5 yards per carry. Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt totaled 112 yards on 23 carries against Baltimore. If those two can average just shy of 5 yards per carry against the Ravens’ stout run defense, they should have no problem establishing the run against the Bengals. A dominant run game will take pressure off Mayfield and even open up the passing game via the play action that Kevin Stefanski loves to run.

The Browns defense is banged up and had difficulty stopping the Ravens. Burrow and Cincinnati’s weapons are no slouches but they aren’t the Ravens offense either. There should be an improvement on defense for Cleveland this week. The Browns are the more talented team and are playing a game they need to win. Cleveland can absolutely win this game by a touchdown and an extra point. If you’re looking to bet the points, I’d take the over in this game. The over/under was 44 for the two matchups last year and these two teams hit the over in both games. Despite disappointing week one showings, their offenses are going to be better this season.

The safer bet is to take the Browns to cover. This game is a great opportunity for Mayfield and the Browns to right the ship and I believe they’ll take advantage.

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